Okayama City

Okayama is a pleasant and very livable-seeming (well, I had just come from Tokyo) city in the Kansai on the way from Osaka to Hiroshima.After I left Ushimado, I spent a night in Okayama before heading back to the wilds of Tokyo. Okayama is the prefectural capital of the like-named prefecture, and that government was the sponsor of the International Villas at Hattoji and Ushimado.
Bridge to Kourakuen

Several Okayama sights I saw are listed below. Click to jump there! Areas in Okayama with their own pages include:

Oka5.jpg  Okayama prefecture clearly has a bunch of powerful Dietmen, because the evidence of rampant government spending is all over the prefecture -- whether it's the International Villas, the incredible number of nearly-unused highways crisscrossing the area, or the museums, they've got the funding. Another example of this is the Okayama Symphony Hall at left, a stunning but absolutely huge building in Okayama City. I'm sure they have nice concerts, though. Oka3.jpg
  This building was a pretty cool take on how to build on the tiny plots of land available in Japan. 
Yumeji museum ticket   Oka6.jpg The sun set while I was heading the OIC, leading to a pretty nice sunset.
Across from the Kourakuen gardens island is the Yumeji museum, dedicated to the artist ??? Yumeji. He was supposedley one of the first artists to draw for popular outlets in the modern era -- he did book covers, pamphlets, comics, etc. (although he was active pre-war, so he wasn't part of the manga scene). He seems to have pretty much exclusively drawn beautiful women -- the image at left (from the admission ticket) is a detail from one of his more striking pieces. Since returning from Japan, I've seen him listed in some Japanese print catalogs.

Okayama Jo (castle)

Okayama has a castle as well. It's very nice, and it's nickname is the "Black Heron." Especially nice is the view looking up at the castle shown at right; I spent about an hour sketching that as well. However, Okayama castle isn't quite as interesting as Himeji castle to me for two reasons: one, it clearly wasn't ever intended for real military operations in this incarnation; and, this one is a replica -- the original was destroyed by American bombing in WWII. OkaJo2.jpg
Okayama Jo
Only in Japan

Finally, there's this scene. This is a bona-fide, only-in-Japan, now-that's-something story. So pardon the lengthy retelling...

I initially walked past the scene to the left. I got about 50 feet past it, then realized how special it was.

So, I walked the 50 feet or so back, and lined up to take a picture of it. Whoops! I was out of film. Rewind the film, remove it from the camera, fish around in the bag for the empty film case. Found it! Put that in, now fish around in the bag for the next roll of film. Find one, load it up. OK, finally get around to taking the picture -- and it's still there!

What is it, you ask? It's a brand-new shiny BMW, with the motor running, the doors unlocked, and the key in the ignition. This whole time, I didn't see anybody on the street -- I have no idea where the owner was. It was just sitting there. Boy, now that's not something you're gonna see a lot of in the U.S....

A beautiful place Pretty pictures A fascinating place The Black Heron Okayama A very nice public building SEGA's future A very nice fancy building

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  © 1998 Leo Hourvitz